Do you break into a rash or get a tummy ache after eating certain foods? Food allergies can be mild or serious, so be on the alert for symptoms that may have long term health consequences. 

It’s hard to understand why some people react adversely to common foods like milk, nuts and eggs. Strangely, the immune system of allergic individuals treats certain food items like diseases, and reacts by fighting them.

An allergy may be mild or severe, and manifest as a rash, stomachache, cramps, itching, swelling, diarrhoea and so on. In serious cases, it may cause a reaction called anaphylactic shock, which calls for an immediate medical response.

Can range from mild to severe

Identifying the trigger is particularly important for those suffering from allergies. Laboratory testing is the best way to get to a diagnosis.

Once you know which food leads to problems, you can tackle your problem and ensure it doesn’t escalate. Be watchful with food, is the main advice given by doctors to those with known food allergies.

Five common allergies to watch for

#1 Gluten 

This is a very common type of food allergy, triggered by the protein gluten, found in many grains like wheat, barley, rye, and oats. The symptoms of gluten allergy can range from recurrent headaches to irritated and itchy skin, to asthma and irritable bowel syndrome. Also known as Celiac disease, this can be diagnosed with a simple blood test.

#2 Egg 

This allergy is especially prevalent among children. Research shows that the white of the egg is the cause. Apart from avoiding eggs completely, those with this allergy also need to ensure they avoid all products that contain eggs in their ingredients, such as cakes, biscuits and mayonnaise.

#3 Sea Food 

Seafood allergies are more sudden, and occur mostly among adults. The chances of outgrowing this allergy are negligible, and the only way to deal with it is to avoid seafood altogether. Sometimes the allergy is specifically to shellfish, in which case you may be able to eat other kinds of fish.

#4 Nut 

This is again a very common food allergy, which is often very severe. Allergies due to peanuts and tree nuts like almonds, hazelnuts, and walnuts, often manifests in the form of severe wheezing, chest tightening, vomiting, blackouts, severe hives/rash and respiratory distress. Most of these reactions can be fatal.

#5 Lactose 

Many people are allergic to milk and milk products. In fact, lactose intolerance become more common as we age. In a mild case, stomach ache, diarrhoea and indigestion may result.

But in a serious case, this allergy can lead to a fatal constriction of chest and airways, low blood pressure, hives, body swelling or bloating and itching. In infants, lactose intolerance may cause bloody stools, bowel distress, and vomiting.